Acer: Ultrabook Prices Will Dive Through 2013

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2011-12-02 Print this article Print

Acer president Jim Wong expects ultrabook prices to dive, which could increase margin pressures on manufacturers.

Acer expects ultrabooks to drop in price around 20 percent early next year, according to company president Jim Wong.

Wong is quoted in Taiwanese publication DigiTimes Dec. 1 as saying that ultrabook prices will drop to around $500 in 2013, thanks in large part to an influx of the super-thin laptops from various manufacturers. Acer ships around 100,000 ultrabooks per month.

Ultrabooks are poised to become the next big thing in consumer electronics, at least if the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), due to take place in Las Vegas in January, is any indication. There, manufacturers plan on unveiling dozens of new ultrabook models whose robust specs are matched only by their lighter weight and thinness.

At a New York City event Nov. 18, manufacturers, ranging from Asus and Acer to Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard, demonstrated their ultrabook models. Intel remains an aggressive driver of the nascent phenomenon, partnering with companies to issue devices that conform to the chip maker's exacting specifications.

Ultrabooks in many ways represent an attempt by Intel and those manufacturers to leverage the same interest in thin, portable devices that has driven the tablet phenomenon-at prices that assure them a higher margin than netbooks.

As far back as the summer of 2009, the industry was already responding to the margin concerns inherent in the then-popular netbooks, or ultra-portable laptops with low-power hardware and a cheap price. That July, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told analysts that ultra-thins would arrive on the market with better specs at a higher cost-presumably running versions of Windows that offered his company higher profits.

"We want people to be able to get the advantages of lightweight performance and be able to spend more money with us," he said.

If the price of ultrabooks starts to dive, however, it would institute the same sort of margin squeeze for manufacturers that led to their creation in the first place. It would also replicate the current situation with tablets, where manufacturers have begun to slash prices in a bid to perk up anemic sales and better compete with Apple's iPad.

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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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